NEW ORLEANS – A federal judge who overturned a six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling imposed after the Gulf oil spill refused Thursday to put his ruling on hold while the government appeals.
The Justice Department had asked U.S. District Judge Martin Feldman to delay his ruling until the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans can review it. Feldman rejected that request Thursday.
On Tuesday, he struck down the Interior Department’s moratorium that halted approval of new permits for deepwater projects and suspended drilling on 33 exploratory wells. Feldman concluded the government simply assumed that because one deepwater rig went up in flames, others were dangerous, too.
But the Justice Department argues that delaying Feldman’s ruling would eliminate the risk of another drilling accident while new safety equipment standards and procedures are considered.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal called the ruling a “rare instance” of common sense from a federal official.
Republicans block jobs bill
WASHINGTON – Republicans on Thursday defeated Democrats’ showcase election-year jobs bill, including an extension of weekly unemployment benefits for millions of people out of work more than six months.
The 57-41 vote fell three votes short of the 60 required to crack a GOP filibuster, delivering a major blow to President Barack Obama and Democrats facing big losses of House and Senate seats in the fall election.
The rejected bill would have provided $16 billion in new aid to states, preserving the jobs of thousands of state and local government workers and providing what White House officials called an insurance policy against a double-dip recession. It included dozens of tax breaks sought by business lobbyists and tax increases on domestically produced oil and on investment fund managers.
The demise of the bill means that unemployment benefits will phase out for more than 200,000 people a week. Governors who had been counting on federal aid will now have to consider a fresh round of budget cuts, tax hikes and layoffs.
The bill had been sharply pared back after weeks of negotiations with GOP moderates.
Only one Democrat, Ben Nelson of Nebraska, voted with Republicans.